Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Red Storm overcame a six-point halftime deficit and the heroic efforts of Khadijah Rushdan to knock off Rutgers 62-57. Eugeneia McPherson had 17 points to lead all scorers, with Nadirah McKenith chipping in 15 and Shenneika Smith adding 14 points and eight rebounds. Khadijah Rushdan led the Scarlet Knights with 16, eight in the last two minutes.
For fouls, wet spots, questionable fashion choices, never giving up, highlight reel plays, and awkward realizations, join your intrepid and high-pitched blogger after the jump.
I have this urge to run around and hug people, but the only person around is my husband, and I can hug him any time.
My sympathies to the Cagers who came on the A-1 bus that scraped up against the gate a few times like he was trying to shake off a nagging defender. Apparently that wasn't the only issue he had. The Rutgers fans were paler than they should have been after the game.
Anthem singer, you are not Whitney Houston and you do not have to blow out the sound system, okay? You have a mic, you don't have to project quite that much.
Sparkly C. Vivian Stringer was sparkly. Loved the rhinestones on the pockets and collar. Didn't see the scarf that I used to lust after when I was still a Rutgers fan- red silk with the block R- which is a shame, because it would have gone.
I don't know if Rutgers knows what to do with the freshmen. There are so very many of them and they all seem vaguely interchangeable. I'm not sure if that's being unsure due to not having seen them very much, to Stringer's recruiting, or to Stringer not knowing how to use any of them in specific roles yet. Shakeena Richardson had a nice little shot- may she be a better player and a classier person than that other #22 from Rutgers. Betnijah Laney looked less like a freshman than most of her classmates, using her solid build to get opportunities. Christa Evans strikes me as a more traditional RU center- someone who's just there to clean up the mess from the guards and make room in the lane.
Monique Oliver is a load in the lane. If Rutgers hits her every time out next year, they're going to be dangerous. Congrats to April Sykes for hitting 1000 (at least so I assume, from the fans' reactions when she hit her first basket). I was surprised they didn't try to get to her more- she's a matchup nightmare for us with her size and outside touch. (The only player we have with that skill set is not the world's greatest defender.) My heart was in my throat every time that Erica Wheeler got open with the ball, but we got on her when we needed to and harassed her as necessary. Briyona Canty got the start, but to be frank, I'm not sure why. I guess someone had to. Khadijah Rushdan has the heart of a champion. She was bound and determined not to lose that game at the end, and she tried to take the entire team on her shoulders. I reluctantly like her.
Briana Brown, thank you for the hustle, but thank you for also putting Rutgers back in range with that dumb foul. Amber Thompson came off the bench for this game after her sketchy performance against Marquette, and while she still looks like she's making friends with the freshman wall, she's scrapping and hustling, and showing that she'll make those plays when she's a sophomore or a junior. I'll take that. Tesia Harris made a brief cameo, demonstrated that her shot had not decided to join her this evening, and ended up back on the bench. Keylantra Langley brought the defense, and some but not all of her shot clock heroics.
Da'Shena Stevens took a lot of contact down low, and she had a couple of questionable foul calls. The numbers aren't going to show the kind of presence she had for us in the post and the kind of leadership she provided on the floor. They're not going to reflect her increased ballhandling ability and her willingness to bring the ball up the floor. Shenneika Smith had a solid all-around game- some boneheaded plays that had us screaming at her, but some dagger shots that wounded Rutgers. I have lingered repeatedly over the lack of rebounding that Mary Nwachukwu brings at the four- I'm sorry, but two consecutive games with no rebounds from a post is unacceptable. If Tesia Harris can get her own rebound in two minutes, I think one is not too much to ask. Mary's defense was also suspect in the second half- if you're going to foul a shooter, don't just ruffle their hair, make sure they don't hit the shot as well. Still, she had the pretty midrange jumper. I'd just like to see a little more from her inside. Eugeneia McPherson got the calls tonight. Well, most of the calls. She still hit the deck more than I would have liked, but tonight she got the calls and hit the free throws. I love when she gets that aggressive and drives that hard. Nadirah McKenith was the point guard at both ends of the floor, leading both offense and defense. She made the plays to force turnovers, and she hit the clutch free throws. I love her poise and her court vision.
Originally, the play of the game was going to be the sequence where Da'Shena had the block, which was recovered by St. John's, then got to Shenneika, who passed it to Keylantra for the jumper. And then Nadirah spun and threw it up over her shoulder and got the roll on the no-look and got the foul, and that was sort of freaking amazing. Why that's not an ESPN Top Ten play, I will never know.
Bryan Enterline. Amy Bonner. What did we ever do to deserve this? Lots of inexplicable calls that are still inexplicable as I watch the replay. Lots of travels. The floor did seem slippery tonight, judging from the sequence that had both Nadirah and Laney on the floor.
Credit to the students for coming out for this game. We did our best to get the word out, and they answered.
There was a time in my life when I would have yearned for the matching Rutgers earrings and necklace set. This is not that time in my life.
I sympathized with the guy who wanted to storm the floor, but we've beaten Rutgers before. Notre Dame might be the only one we storm this year if we pull it off.
What a game, what a night, what a team. We did what we had to do. Now we need to keep doing it.